EU citizens offered help with 'settled status' by Tower Hamlets Council as looming Brexit date is postponed
PUBLISHED: 18:38 14 March 2019 | UPDATED: 07:43 15 March 2019
Citizens from the rest of the EU who have made their home in east London are being offered help from Tower Hamlets Council's own Brexit contingency service to register if they want to stay.
The offer comes on the day Brexit has been postponed beyond March 29 following another resounding defeat for Theresa May’s government in the Commons today.
The estimated 41,000 EU citizens living in the East End who don’t hold British citizenship may still need to apply for settled or pre-settled status as part of a government scheme if they want to continue living and working in the UK from 2021.
“We recognise that for some people being asked to register after living here for years can seem insensitive or distressing,” Tower Hamlets Brexit commissioner Amina Ali said.
“We have made it clear to all the non-British EU citizens that this is their home, too. But those who want to stay need to go through the process of applying for pre-settled or settled status.
“We can’t change the government’s scheme — but can do our bit to make applications easier.”
Applications to register for settled status open at the end of the month, which need identity and passports to be verified and approved.
Mayor John Biggs said: “These EU citizens are our neighbours and friends. We want to do all we can to make sure they can continue to live and work here after Brexit.”
The council’s Brexit service is open from Tuesday to those living or working in Tower Hamlets, offering help with the whole registration process.
But there is a temporary breather with the March 29 exit date now being postponed, following MPs at Westminster tonight voting to extend Brexit.
A motion forced on the Prime Minister in the Commons if her own Brexit plan was defeated again, as it was on Tuesday, means the government is to seek agreement with the EU for an extension to Article 50 beyond March 29.
A new date would be June 30 if a Brexit plan is agreed by next Wednesday, or probably longer period if there is still deadlock and the UK would then take part in upcoming European elections.